Whatever purpose your wood deck serves—a garden of potted plants, a relaxing summer paradise, or an outdoor entertainment stage—it requires some regular TLC in order to extend its mileage. Wood decks suffer from constant abuse from not only foot traffic, but also the elements and many other common issues you may not even realize. Fortunately, regular cleaning, refinishing, spotting, and repairing can help prevent long-lasting damage to your deck and keep it looking as good as it did the day it was built.

These simple tips for maintaining and repairing wood decks will ensure your summer stage not only looks appealing but also remains safe this summer and all year round.

1. Keep it clean and clear

  • Rapidly remove debris. To prevent excess debris from collecting and causing stains, scratches, mold, or mildew from forming, be sure to consistently give your deck a good sweeping. In other words, if leaves fall on your deck, don’t just let them sit there.
  • Trim trees and bushes. Keep your trees and bushes away from your deck, as they can cause mold, moss, and rot on the surface. Trim ‘em up!
  • Inspect gutters and downspouts. Ensure your gutters and downspouts are working properly so that water can drain off your deck, rather than building up and causing damages or mold.

2. Avoid scratches

  • Keep animal feeders off the deck. As tempting as it may be, do not keep your animal feeders on the deck if you want to maintain its appearance. Animals flying or running around your deck is a good way to collect stains and scratches on its surface.
  • Don’t place pots, planters, or grills directly on deck surface. Instead, place blocks, pot feet, or a mat under anything that lives on your deck’s surface. This can help prevent inevitable grease stains, charcoal burns, and surface scratching.

3. Keep the color vibrant

  • Sand natural woods. Natural woods (including redwood, cedar, teak) often see discoloration over time. If your deck starts turning a silvery-gray shade, don’t panic! The original color is still there; it’s just hiding under the surface! All you need to do is sand your natural wood deck and it will restore the original color.
  • Move furniture occasionally to avoid discoloring. To avoid spotty discoloration, regularly shift the furniture around so that each part receives the same amount of sunlight and that you don’t wear down certain parts of your deck.

4. Consistently inspect and repair

  • Inspect properly and frequently. To keep you and your guests safe, a proper and frequent inspection is necessary. Check for split or decaying wood, loose fasteners, railings, or banisters, uprooted nails, and warped planks. It is vital to do this annually, but it is recommended that you inspect your deck and make repairs as frequently as possible.
  • Replace old nails with screws. If you happen to find uprooted nails in your deck, rather than hammering them back down, pull them out and replace them with decking screws. For treated lumber, use plastic-coated ACQ-compliant screws. For natural wood, use corrosion-resistant coated screws.

5. Protect and seal annually

  • Pressure wash. Every year (or even more frequently), you’ll want to thoroughly clean your deck, as an unwashed deck invites mildew, mold, and consequently, rot. Apply deck cleaner and allow it to set for the recommended amount of time. Then, rinse the cleaner by pressure washing. If you do not know how to properly use a pressure washer, hire a professional to get the job done.
  • Seal. After a thorough cleaning, sand (if desired) and apply a penetrating sealer to protect the wood deck from the elements for the next year. The best product to use is one that offers protection from UV rays, repels water, and contains a mildewcide. Just be sure to use the right kind of sealer for your deck.

It’s always a good time to start caring for your wood deck. It’s your outdoor paradise, after all. Summer holidays, cookouts, and relaxation time are only enjoyable on your deck if the area is clean, safe, and attractive. It may require some maintenance and repair, but the investment is definitely worth it.